It wasn’t JUST Gabriel Landeskog day for the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Sure, the Captain taking the ice for the first time since his surgery back in May is massive news, but there was some other news to come from practice.
Artturi Lehkonen was once again on the ice taking contact with his teammates. It was an optional skate, but there were around 10-12 players out there, so he had some company.
We know Lehkonen is going to go on the road trip with the Avalanche, but is it possible he plays?
“I would say there’s a chance (he plays) towards the end of it,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said today. “Too early to tell.”
The other day, I made my guess that I think Bednar and the staff would like to try Lehkonen on the second line again with Valeri Nichushkin and Ryan Johansen. After all, that’s how they started the season. With Jonathan Drouin excelling on the top line, they have a bit more flexibility.
So I asked Bednar – is that a line he would like to revisit?
“Yep,” Bednar said.
However, we’ll probably see Colton gets some looks there as well.
“If you’ve noticed, there’s been some o-zone draws, some d-zone draws when that line is up. It could be Colton’s line with Val and OC. If the draw is on the right side, I’ll put Johansen so he’ll play some shifts with those guys, and vice versa,” Bednar said. “(Colton and Johansen) have been flip-flopping a little bit, but I like the fact that they’re interchangeable because Jo is doing a really nice job on the draws on both sides, but Colton’s been really good on the left, in particular. I want him to have the flexibility and the experience of playing with all those wingers.”
Wood Not Ready
The good news is Lehkonen may play on the road trip. The unfortunate news is that there is still a lot of mystery around when the Avalanche will get Miles Wood back. He tested positive for influenza, and according to Bednar, he’s “still not doing very well.”
If he does join the team, he’ll fly in at a later date. You don’t want someone getting the rest of the team sick in a situation like this.
“It’s a week today. Still not on the ice, still not feeling great,” Bednar said. “The next step for him, we’ll leave, and hopefully get him in our gym and do some work. We’ve got some staff members, Landy, staying, and there’ll be people here. Hopefully he can get a couple days of work in and then come meet us.”
Other News And Notes
- It was a strange practice because there were a good chunk of players on the ice, but the amount of people out there that have actually played a game with Gabriel Landeskog was alarmingly low. We’re talking just Kurtis MacDermid, Artturi Lehkonen, and Andrew Cogliano. Just goes to show how much turnover the organization has seen in the last two years.
- One guy who was on the ice, despite having played a lot of minutes lately, was Jonathan Drouin. Just another sign of the time he’s putting in to make it work with the Avalanche.
- I asked Bednar if he’s ever seen growth in a player he’s coached over a five year span that he’s seen from Valeri Nichushkin in his time here. Probably have more on that in a later piece, but Bednar did say Nichushkin is very deserving of an All-Star bid, if he gets one.
- “He’s one of the top players in the league, in my opinion. Top 200-foot players in the league, for sure.”